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University of Maryland, College Park department of engineering professor Teng Li, Ph.D. ,leads a groundbreaking research effort to discover a process that turns ordinary wood into a structure stronger than steel, but six times lighter.

Taking basswood, which is commonly used by woodworkers for its softness, Li created a much stronger piece of wood through a process utilizing a chemical treatment, cold and hot presses, a water rinsing and mineral oil soak. The finding worked on other types of wood as well.

This new discovery has received international attention and could lead toward a more sustainable future.

Li has spent his entire professional career in higher education. For the past 16 years, he has served as a UMD professor. In 2012, he was named the Keystone Professor of mechanical engineering.

Before coming to UMD, he was a researcher at Harvard University and Princeton University respectively. He earned his doctorate in engineering science from Harvard University and master’s degree from Princeton University.

The author of more than 130 peer-reviewed articles, Li is also the co-founder of iMechanica.orgone, an international online community for scholars and mechanics.